Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
HARARE-BASED Eagles have set their sights on sweeping the boards as Zimbabwe Cricket’s 2023/24 domestic season gets underway today with the Pro50 Championship matches.
Eagles will host Southern Rocks at Takashinga Cricket Club while defending champions Mountaineers will be taking on Rhinos at Mutare Sports Club.
The same sides will face each other again at the same venues on Sunday.
Eagles last season won all the other trophies, except the one-day championship. They won the country’s premier first class Logan Cup competition and the Domes-tic T20 Trophy.
But coach Eric Chauluka believes they will be able to emulate their women’s side that have won both domestic competitions, after bagging the Fifty50 Challenge and the Women’s T20 Cup, in the last two years.
“As Eagles, I think we are a very confident franchise and we pride ourselves on our success and in what we do,” said Chauluka.
“We are just coming off a season where we got two out of three trophies as the male side and we are looking forward to claiming the three.”
Chauluka believes they have prepared well for the season after most of their players featured in club cricket with Takashinga Patriots and won medals. Takashinga Patriots 1 were crowned champions of the 2023/24 National Premier League while Takashinga 2 won the T20 Blast. Chauluka was also named Coach of the tournament for the just ended NPL season.
“I think the NPL helped us a lot because we had a lot of players involved and a lot of players coming through and they have done well. So our preparation has been good and we are looking forward to the new season,” said Chauluka. Eagles will be looking for a positive start in the back-to-back clashes with Southern Rocks. They will play Tuskers, who had a bye this week, next Friday at Harare Sports Club, with the two teams completing their back-to-back fixtures the following Sunday.
On the same days, Rocks will be entertaining Mountaineers at Masvingo Sports Club.
The Pro50 Championship round-robin fixtures will run up to November 26, with the final scheduled to take place on December 2.
After the completion of the List A games, the Logan Cup will then get underway, with the first fixtures in the first-class competition scheduled for December 6-9 and pitting title holders Eagles against Tuskers and Rocks versus Mountaineers.
The next four-day matches are pencilled in for December 13-16, when Rhinos will face Eagles, while Rocks and Tuskers will be tussling it out in the other match.
The following fixtures, scheduled for December 20-23, will see Eagles taking on Rocks, with Mountaineers facing Rhinos.
All the Logan Cup matches are scheduled to take place at venues in Harare.
After a short break for the festive holidays, action will resume on January 3 and run up until the final first-class games set for February 16-19.
The Harare-based provincial side however are set to miss a number of their key players next month due to national team commitments. They have about six players in the Chevrons squad to tour Namibia this weekend, with more commitments expected next month when they take part in the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier Africa, in the same country.
Eagles general manager Wonder Chisango said they have made contingency plans with their B side.
“I think, as I highlighted before, we suffer because we are the best province.
“We produce the best players. So every time the national team players are going out, we have struggled. But this time around we have managed to come up with an extended squad of about 30 people.
“We want to ensure that our sort-of B side is also consistent so that when the first team guys are on national team duty these guys will step in and do duty for us,” said Chisango.